With a new season comes new faces and new energy.
The Movin’ Mavs welcome three freshmen and two sophomores to its 2018-19 roster. Here’s a look at the team’s newcomers.
Alex “AJ” Hummer
Freshmen AJ Hummer and Isaac Hummer are brothers who grew up playing together. AJ Hummer said they both have bonded with the team quickly after just a few weeks of practice.
After sharing the court with each other for more than four years, the pair have developed a certain level of chemistry that could benefit the team, AJ Hummer said.
“We don’t have to communicate much between the two of us because, like, we already know what we’re doing,” AJ Hummer said.
Head coach Doug Garner said AJ Hummer is a fast reader of the game and a solid player on both sides of the ball who has the potential to be a strong, quick point guard.
Garner said Isaac Hummer’s physical qualities and natural shooting ability suits him as an outside shooter, since he isn’t as big enough to play near the paint like freshman Zach Blair or senior Blake McMinn.
“We can spread the floor, and people kinda forget about him,” Garner said. “He can make those 15-footers pretty consistently.”
There has always been a competitive edge between him and his brother AJ Hummer, so the rest of the team often instigates them when they face off in practice, Isaac Hummer said.
“AJ and I, we still bicker like all brothers do,” Isaac Hummer said. “It’s still pretty fun [playing with him].”
Sophomore Ramiro Cortez passed up playing tennis in Houston to join the Movin’ Mavs, he said, because he prefers a team atmosphere over an individual sport.
His first impression of the team was that they were show-offs, but ever since he’s arrived, he feels right at home.
“It’s like a family over here,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I guess other people see me the same as them now, as I used to see them like that.”
Garner described Cortez as a “blue-collar worker,” praising his talent on the free throw line and his ability to find the bigger guys near the paint.
With military experience under his belt, Blair said he hopes to bring leadership, accountability and a sense of responsibility to the team.
Coming to the Movin’ Mavs program was the first step toward reaching his goal of making Team USA’s Paralympic squad, Blair said.
“This is the Mecca, man,” he said. “I mean, look at our wall. You look around and there’s greats all over this place. If you don’t know the sport, then you should bone up on it because there’s a lot of the greatest players to ever play came through this college.”
Blair’s intensity is something the team lacked on the court, Garner said, and an inside finisher with Blair’s height and arm length is a good asset to have.
“He really takes us to the next level when he’s on the floor,” Garner said.
It was the school’s decorated wheelchair basketball program that led Ray Hennagir to UTA. The sophomore began playing 10 years ago during his time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He soon became a household name in several editions of the Warrior Games, despite having not played basketball since middle school.
“I basically just learned that there’s more to life than just being broke now,” he said about living with his disability. “From there, I just kept training and kinda fell in love with [wheelchair basketball].”
Garner said Hennagir is smart with zonal play, does a lot of the dirty work that goes unnoticed and is a good finisher with the few chances he gets.
With Blair and Hennagir both being Marine Corps veterans, they’ll bring a new sense of discipline and hardness to the team, Garner said.
“The intensity that some of the veterans bring, like the military veterans, is always a nice shot in the arm,” he said. “They come in, and they want to win. They want to work hard, and they’re used to working hard.”
Garner said he wants the newcomers to find their feet within the team and take over the roles of some of the older players as they move out from the program.
“[They are] going to give us a lot more lineups that we can offer this year that I think will bring a lot of fresh energy,” Garner said. “Down the road, when they get to the levels of the veterans, it’s a lineup we’ll be able to run.”